Sunday, March 15, 2015

Boxing at York Hall Bethnal Green: Ultimate Glory

By Peter Silkov

York Hall, Bethnal Green, London-Last night, March 14, 2015, boxing returned to Bethnal Green’s York Hall, under the banner of Goodwin Promotions.  It was the 5th anniversary of Goodwin Promotions putting together fight cards at the popular London venue.  In front of a completely packed house, the bumper line-up of thirteen matches was entertaining, and fit the celebration.

The fight of the night was also the top of the bill, Lee Markham (14-2-0, 7 koes) vs. Jahmaine Smyle (12-4-2, 5 koes) for the vacant English Super-middleweight championship. This was a blistering contest that went the full 10 rounds and at times moved at an unbelievable pace. Smyle opened up an early lead over the first 5 rounds with good movement and with a quick and precise jab. Markham was always in pursuit, but too often, was being out-boxed and out-punched in rounds that were still being closely contested.  From the 6th round onwards, Markham increased his workrate, and the pressure on Smyle, pushing his opponent onto the ropes and landing good shots to the head and body. This was really one of those fights that got better the longer it went on and there were toe-to-toe exchanges that had the audience up on their feet.

Lee Markham  Vs. Jahmaine Smyle 
After one particularly intense toe-to-toe exchange to end the 7th round, the referee Marcus McDonnell, felt moved to applaud both fighters himself. It was an unusual gesture, but one, which the fight, and both fighters deserved.

Throughout the middle rounds, Markham’s pressure took away much of Smyle’s jab, and Smyle had no option but to go toe-to-toe with his tormenter. During these rounds, Markham seemed to be making up for the loss of the early rounds by landing the better punches on Smyle, although the rounds were still tantalizingly close. 

 Going into the last two rounds, there seemed to be little to choose between each man and the fight still seemed up for grabs either way.  The 9th round was hard to give to either man, with Smyle starting the round good by trying to use his jab and movement more again, and then Markham coming on strong in the second half of the stanza, forcing Smyle into the ropes, and dragging Smyle back into the trenches.

The 10th and last round was all-out toe-to-toe action, with the crowd screaming at the top of its voice; it was a tremendous finale to what had turned out to be one of the domestic fights of the year. Markham seemed to edge this round by dint of his more aggressive work and heavier shots, but Smyle, although on the back foot or against the ropes for much of the round, still had his moments with some great counterpunching.  Like the majority of the fight, it was a round that could have gone either way, according to whose work you like best... the flashier, more technical work by Smyle, or Markham’s more basic, but heavier punches. Neither man could be faulted for effort, and in the end, it was one of those thrilling contests that could easily have gone to either man. This was portrayed in the scoring by the fight’s three judges, with one having it for Markham by three rounds, and the other two judges giving the fight to Smyle by one round. The Boxing Glove saw the match 5 rounds to 4 for Markham, with Smyle winning rounds 1, 2, 4, and 5, and Markham winning rounds 3, 6, 7, 8 and 10, with the 9th round even.  It really was that close and this was a fight where both men came out with a huge amount of credit.  If ever a fight screamed out for a rematch, then, this is one of them.

Larry Ekundayo vs. Dale Evans
In the joint main event, Larry “The Natural” Ekundayo (9-0, 3koes) clashed with Dale Evans (11-5, 5koes) in a British welterweight title eliminator.  Big things have been predicted for Ekundayo, who has been finding it hard to get fights during his career, before recently signing up with Goodwin promotions. This was a crunch fight against the dangerous and more experienced Evans. The first two rounds went to Ekundayo, as he boxed nicely, showing a good jab and fast hands. Evans stepped up the pressure in the 3rd round and took the round and the 4th stanza, as his aggressive work seemed to make Ekundayo uncomfortable, nullifying his jab as he was put onto the defensive.  However, in the 5th round, Ekundayo came out with more intent and dropped Evans heavily with a beautiful right hand, which Evans did well to get up at all. It was still early in the round and Ekundayo launched an all-out attack on his now bloodied and dazed opponent. Evans tried to fight back, but was being battered round the ring. It looked as if he might survive the round, until the referee finally called a halt with Evans pinned against the ropes, and taking more punishment than was good for him.   This was an impressive performance from Ekundayo and showed why he has been so avoided up until now. At 32 years of age, he certainly seems ready now to take the step up to British title level.

Nathan Weise Vs. Johnny Garton 
Also impressive was Johnny Garton, (14-1, 7koes) in his defence of the Southern Area Welterweight championship against Nathan Weise (10-5-2, 2koes).  This was another fast-paced contest, with Weise offering some nice boxing skills, while Garton pressured. Garton is known for his aggressive come-forward style, but he showed a marked improvement in this fight with his use of the jab and good footwork. He was applying intelligent pressure, rather than simply coming forward recklessly, as he might have earlier in his career. By the 4th round, Weise was visibly tiring from Garton’s ever-increasing attacks. Early in the 5th, Garton dropped Weise with a right hand. Although Weise bravely regained his feet, Garton was on him again quickly, and Weise was floored again, with the referee this time waving off the fight. Garton is another fighter who looks to be developing towards a crack at the British welterweight title.

Ivan Stupalo vs. Leon Mackenzie

Leon Mckenzie Defeats Ivan Stupalo

In the evening’s other 10-rounder, Leon Mackenzie (6-0-1, 2koes), collected his first professional title, with a 10-rounds points decision over Ivan Stupalo (10-10, 2koes) to win the Super-middleweight Masters title. Mackenzie dominated the fight with his southpaw jab, while Stupalo was content to spend most of the fight on the defensive, while offering the occasional punch back in retaliation. The only moment of drama for Mckenzie came in the 10th and final round when a right hand from Stupalo seemed to hurt him, but Mckenzie held and rode out the rest of the round on the move.
Winning this title was a huge achievement for Mckenzie, who only turned professional in his mid-30s, after ending a successful football career. The number of footballers who have made a successful switch to boxing are very limited, and Mckenzie has already justified his taking up boxing, and there may be more titles to come for him.

Joe Mullender vs. Edwards Geronimos
On the undercard, there were plenty of other fights to keep the fans happy.

In a scheduled 8-rounder Joe Mullander (8-1-0, 3koes) stopped Edwards Gerasimov’s (6-3-1, 6koes) to win the Middleweight International Masters title. Mullander landed a body shot early in the round, which made his opponent pull up and stop fighting, provoking the referee to stop the fight with Gerasimov still on his feet.

 The other 8-rounder of the night was a lively welterweight contest between Matt McCarthy (11-1-0, 2koes) and Stanislav Nenkov (12-11, 1ko) which went the whole 8 rounds distance. McCarthy dominated the contest with his jab, and showed some good skills in being able to switch between orthodox and southpaw, and still maintain his rhythm. Nenkov was durable and willing, but had no answer to McCarthy, who won a wide points decision.

The rest of the fights on the night’s bill were all scheduled for 4 rounds:

Super-bantamweight Josh Kennedy (2-0, 2koes) looked impressive in dispatching Valentin Marinov (7-13-1, 4koes). Kennedy floored Marinov 3 times in the first round, mainly with body shots, then had him down again at the beginning of the 2nd round, prompting the referee to halt the fight.
At flyweight, debutant Prince Patel (1-0, 1ko) looked good in stopping Patrik Kovacs (0-3) in the 1st round, with Kovacs crumbling almost as soon as Patel connected.  Patel performed some Naseem Hamed style antics, which provoked a mixed reaction from the crowd, but during this short contest, he showed that he has a good jab and impressive power for such a little man, and may well be one to watch in the future.           

Heavyweight Louie Darling (1-0) made his debut with a workman-like point’s victory over the tough Moses Matova (5-53-4) over 4 rounds.

Cruiserweight Joe Lopes (3-0, 1ko) looked impressive in scoring a 3rd round stoppage over Marko Rupcic (3-13-1, 1ko).  Rupcic came to fight and was game until the end, and protested the stoppage vehemently. Lopes showed some good boxing skills and a solid punch. 

Also at Cruiserweight, Aji Sharif (3-2, 1ko) was looking for revenge against Imantas Davidaitis (4-1, 2koes) after Davidaitis had stopped Sharif in the 2nd round last December. Sharif seemed to have the lead going into the 4th and final round, having been the more active fighter, but he was still struggling with the 6’ foot 9” inch Davidaitis’ reach. Davidaitis wasn’t throwing enough punches though, seemingly waiting to land the big one, which came early in the 4th round, with a left to the top of Sharif’s head, and sent him sprawling down into the ropes. Although Sharif beat the count, his legs and balance were all gone, and the referee had no option but to stop the fight. 

Former English Flyweight champion Ashley Sexton (15-2-2, 5koes) had his first fight in 2 years and posted a 4-round points win over Elemir Rafael (29-90-3, 5koes). This fight was fought at featherweight.

In the first contest of the night light-middleweight Ashley Hill (3-0, 1ko) scored a victory over Andrejas Loginovs (16-36-1, 9koes)

Boxing is fighting for recognition and publicity in Britain, as more and more of the media turn their back on the grass roots of boxing, including almost unbelievably, the trade paper, “Boxing News.” It is important for shows like Saturday’s events at York Hall to receive the kind of support from the public that it did on the night of the show. One thing that “Ultimate Glory” proved is that small hall boxing is far from dead in London.

Boxing fans don’t have to wait long for the next Goodwin show at York Hall, as their next show “Best of Enemies” takes place next weekend, on March 21, 2015.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and
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1 comment:

  1. Tickets, exuberantly priced are still selling like hotcakes! I guess that's price paid for wanting to get this fight a reality! May 2 Pacquiao Vs Mayweather Megafight will be epic, that's for sure!